The United Nations High Commission for refugees has called on Cameroonian authorities to exercise restraint following news that over 300 Nigeria refugees were forcibly sent back to their country from the Far North Region of Cameroon.
According to statistics from the organisation, 385 Nigerian refugees have been forcibly returned from Cameroon since the start of this year with the majority occuring in the last month.
On April 10,160 Nigerian refugees and asylum-seekers were forcibly returned to Nigeria’s Borno state – an area whose residents continue to face risks. They had been seeking refuge in Cameroon’s Waza district since 2014 , the UNHCR said in a statement.
Seven days later, 118 asylum-seekers were forcibly returned to Borno state after arriving Cameroon just 48 hours before fleeing the violence in their area.
« The forced returns are in violation of the principle of no forced returns or non-refoulement, » The UNHCR said in a statement.
« They are also a significant setback to progress previously achieved by Cameroon in granting asylum to Nigerian civilians fleeing Boko Haram violence in Borno State, » the statement added.
The UNCHR called on the government to o refrain from further forced returns and to ensure protection to those fleeing insecurity and persecution in Nigeria, in accordance with Cameroon’s national and international obligations. In total, UNHCR has registered some 87,600 Nigerian refugees in the country.
The UNHCR however recognised the security threat posed by Boko Harm but called for a compatibility between national security and refugee protection.